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The High Crusade

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  2,716 Ratings  ·  194 Reviews
It is 1345. In the town of Ansby in northeastern Lincolnshire, Sir Roger, Baron de Tourneville, is recruiting a military force to assist King Edward III in the Hundred Years' War against France. Suddenly, an enormous silver spacecraft lands outside the town. It is a scouting craft for the Wersgorix Empire, a brutal dominion light-years from our solar system. The Wersgorix ...more
hardcover, 181 pages
Published 1960 by Baen Books (Riverside, CA)
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May 29, 2013 Lyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The High Crusade by Poul Anderson, tells the unlikely but still somehow plausible tale of an alien invasion of earth in the 1300s.

The aliens made a cosmic blunder by messing with an English baron and his fiefdom. What ensues is a story that must be read to be believed and it is hard to put down. While reading this I could not help but recall scenes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, especially the scenes with Michael Palin as the lord of the castle in the swamps, saying, “Please! This is sup
Your regular garden-variety Englishman in 1345 had a few things to worry about: the Hundred Year War, the general conditions of life in the not-so-pleasant Middle Ages, and - if they had a working crystal ball - the merciless arrival of the Black Death in three short years.

None of these worries normally included traipsing through the galaxy on a captured spaceship ("Lo! It was as a miracle!"), fighting the aliens' advanced technologies with lances and trebuchets, and reshaping the galaxy in acco
Mike (the Paladin)
The aliens landed in Medieval times and were ready for an easy conquest of a backward world...till the knights rushed the ship and got inside and the aliens were defeated..and the ship lifted off in auto-pilot....

The plot sounds a bit hokey but it made such a good story. I think it could have made an ever better one, but my imagination took the original and ran with it. Fun, enjoyable, imaginative, original (nothing like it then and only variations since). As I said I like it. If it were written
May 05, 2012 Apatt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The idea that earth can resist an alien invasion is fairly ludicrous given that the aliens would have to travel light years across the universe to get here, so their level of technology and weaponry must be vastly superior to ours. Poul Anderson, a scifi legend, was well aware of this, and he carefully created an amusing scenario where such a thing is at least plausible. Anderson was a versatile author, books like Tau Zero and Brain Wave and The High Crusade are all very different (not to mentio ...more
Jun 20, 2012 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Poul Anderson. It amazes me that he can write such masterful and complex works as The Broken Sword and something as silly and fun as The High Crusade, and make both equally enjoyable to me. The basic premise of this book is medieval Englishmen from around the time of the crusades, in space, brazening it out and taking over the universe. It is all dealt with very lightly, but there's still moments that are touching and emotionally compelling too -- Lady Catherine's words at the end of the ...more
Feb 11, 2015 Alissa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-ebooks
A thought-provoking “celebration” of the Englishman laced with tongue-in-cheek glamour and sprinkled with a deftly handled satire on contemporary superpowers and societies.

The book is short and there's a great deal of action and witty humor, it gets a bit more philosophical towards the end but I finished it in one sitting with ease.
An intergalactic mega empire scouts for new planets to dominate and one of his spaceships lands in 1345 Lincolnshire, England, where even “the lowliest serf looked up
Aug 02, 2016 Suzannah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Re-read with my sisters January 18, 2017. SO GOOD, PEOPLE <3 <3 <3

(For more on why you really ought to read this joyous book, see my full review!)


Read August 27, 2016.





Erik Graff
Jul 23, 2008 Erik Graff rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: boys
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
During the long summers without playmates at grandmother's cottage in southwest Michigan, I drew and read a lot when it was too lousy outside to spend a day with my dog, Jimmy. The beach, though nearby, had lost its charm after the first days of summer. There was none of the aesthetic concern for having a good tan which became a motivation in adolescence. If I joined the folks down there at all, I'd mostly read, only stepping in the water to cool off on the hotest days. Sometimes, however, I'd r ...more
Mar 20, 2008 Werner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Science fiction fans
The late Poul Anderson was one of the giants of the SF genre (actually, he wrote in all of the speculative genres) in the later 20th century, and this work is certainly a classic. (It's also the only Anderson novel that I've read, though I've enjoyed several of his short stories as well.)

With one of the most original premises (accurately set forth in the Goodreads description above) that I've ever encountered, Anderson uses a mildly humorous tone in much of this book, but it has its serious side
Carol Storm
I read this book as a kid and liked it a lot, because there were lots of battle scenes and the medieval knights really conquer the aliens.

At the time I didn't understand why this story wasn't a huge success like STAR WARS or LORD OF THE RINGS. Now I think I see what's missing.

1.) No Underdog to root for. The English as a group are underdogs, but the main character, Sir Roger deTourneville, is too much of a super duper football hero. (Someone else called him a stereotypical jock.) He's not a cha
May 02, 2014 Nate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-ages, owned
The premise of this book made it an instabuy for me; a bunch of rough Hundred Years War era English dudes preparing to cross the channel and fuck up the French when this alien lands and starts being a total dick. The soldiers do the predictably human thing and slaughter the hell out of him and his buddies. Then they take over the ship and are forced into flying to the aliens' homeworld by a sneaky use of autopilot by the alien captive. I don't even remember what the hell these aliens were called ...more
Mar 25, 2017 Joshua rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
Wonderful blend of sci-fi and mediaeval history. Completely plausible response of real Knights to alien invasion. A really fun read.
Aug 10, 2015 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The trickster-hero character is a type whose roots go all the way back to the Ancient Greek comedies. The conceit is that a man of inferior status with a glib tongue and a ready boast could talk the gods themselves into giving up their own kingdom. This may be Poul Anderson's favorite character type, and here he appears as a Medieval lord called Sir Roger who, one day, finds himself having to defend his 14th century village from an alien invasion. The book follows Roger's exploits and successes ...more
Jun 06, 2012 Jack rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Okay... he wrote this one for fun. It has a Monty Pythonish meets Black Adderishly flavored absurd plot; A scout-ship/UFO from Wersgorix, crash-lands in the fields of the bumbling Sir Roger Baron de Tourneville who is trying to raise an Army to head off to the Crusades to "kill Saracens and bring back a fortune in gold and silver." Mostly to bring back the fortune.

de Tourneville is almost a stereotypical jock, more concerned with the sport of killing Saracens than in wooing his beloved. But ther
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Apr 21, 2010 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
This novel is a wonderful romp. In 1345, Sir Roger Baron de Tourneville repels blue-skinned aliens who land their ship in his pasture. He boards his forces and the entire village of Ansby on the ship and demands a captured alien take them to France to join the English king. Instead the alien takes them to his planet where he's sure the Earthmen will be easily disposed of. Except... Well, you'll have to read.

The novel is great fun--a short, fast-paced read told as the first person account of Bro
Jan 05, 2013 Thom rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The High Crusade is a riotous adventure story.

A spaceship arrives in a medieval kingdom. Instead of being paralyzed with surpris, the English Knights charge into the fray and take the battle to the aliens. From here, the story escalates to one of increasingly lucky conquest. Far more Pulp SF than Hard SF, I imagine a serialized audience becoming more incredulous with each weeks installment.

The characters are mostly static, encountering a small difficulty then resolving it fairly soon. The narrat
May 31, 2008 Travis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Aliens take an entire medevil village into space so they can study humankind.
The local knight isn't thrilled with this arrangement and decides that he's going to find a way to take his people home no matter what.
and Poul Anderson does it all in about 150 pages. Great story.
Feb 19, 2015 Cheri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Yay book group!

One of the reasons I joined "my" sci-fi/fantasy book group is that I really wanted to connect with other readers of the fantastic. How fortunate to have found the group of people I did.

I came across The High Crusade via a book group friend; what a surprise to find it in my hands. It's a slim little thing, a pretty quick read, and very much fun.

Overall? I enjoyed this a lot. The idea is pretty fun: aggressive aliens come to medieval England and find a lot more than they expected
This book sounds ridiculous, and a little awful, but I must convey to you how much fun I found this book to be.

The High Crusade is the chronicle of a Roger de Tourneville, as recorded by Brother Parvus and the events that took place after a spaceship landed near the town of Ansby, where Sir Roger was preparing to depart on a crusade. The aliens disembark their spaceship wielding a phase guns, but are quickly overtaken by an English heavy cavalry charge. Sir Roger intends to take the spaceship w
Christina Baehr
Oct 23, 2016 Christina Baehr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a blast! Aliens try to invade 14th c England and get more than they bargained for. The knights and serfs who steal their spaceship may also have bitten off a bit more than they can chew. But then again, maybe all that the oppressed intergalactic space-dwellers need is a bit of chivalry.

My husband and I had so much fun reading this over a couple of evenings. Hilarious, exciting, and inspiring.
Nov 09, 2015 Derek rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: appendix-n
The velocity of the plot is remarkable. Within ten pages the invading aliens had been pummeled and the English were on their way to the stars, and from there on their way to conquest. Its later half reaches too far and too fast as Anderson hurries toward the endgame of a space empire modeled on European empire.
Mar 30, 2012 Denis rated it liked it
Shelves: hardcover, b-c
This was one of the most entertaining of Poul Anderson's novels I have read thus far. The idea of a bunch of Medieval English soldiers capturing an extraterrestrial spaceship, which they originally took to be some weapon of war by the French with whom they were currently at war with. From there the plot is allowed to get as wild as Anderson can imagine it.

A wonderful book.
Jan 25, 2015 Chip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful space opera with a nice twist (especially for being written in 1960). What if aliens tried to conquer medieval England and the baron was too ignorant to not attack. And then he takes his crusade to another planet and finally to seize control of a galactic empire. The old English style gives the book lots of flavor. Lots of action but the ending was a little hard to get through.
Jul 17, 2008 Charles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Somewhat less fine than The Broken Sword or Three Hearts and Three Lions, but it was fun. A bit more humorous than the others, which may be why I didn't rate it as high.
Timothy Boyd
Jan 24, 2016 Timothy Boyd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So what happens when you take a bunch of medieval knights and men-at-arms into space? They begin to conquer like any good nobleman would. Great SiFi book by one of the masters, very recommended
Jul 05, 2015 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The year is 1345, and Sir Roger Baron de Tourneville has gathered his troops ready to join King Edward III in his battle against France. The knight's day is interrupted by a two-thousand foot long flying machine, containing an advance force of Wersgorix. These are aliens from a distant world who are on a voyage of conquest; their view of Earth is as a backward and primitive place. Unfortunately for them, Sir Roger and company are combat hardened, and not only do not like being shot at but they r ...more
Ана Хелс
Nov 30, 2013 Ана Хелс rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Доста странно заглавие, неподчиняващо се на никакви логически закони или литературни норми. Само чуйте – изключително враждебни извънземни кацат в средновековна Англия по време на кръстоносните походи, въоражени с разни изпаряващи оръжия и мегатонни ядрени заряди, а бандата пияни кокни разбойници с изтъпените си чекийки и вонящи кончета им виждат сметката за половин час време, и се натъпкват с все цялото си село в свръхмодерния им космически кораб, кръстосват вселената и завладяват цели планети ...more
Aug 24, 2014 Nathalie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-read
Wow. This was something else, I tell you.

I wonder what Poul Anderson thought the first time this idea popped into his head. Because it's completely bonkers, and what did you expect, it works out in a crazy way.

Many have endeavoured in the world of medieval fiction, others have tried their hands on science fiction and trying to answer the question whether we're alone in the universe.

Poul Anderson probably wanted to write historical fiction and science fiction, but couldn't choose which one he l
May 01, 2016 Philipp rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, america, sf
Straight out of Golden Age SF:

Lo! It was a miracle! Down through the sky, seeming to swell monstrously with the speed of its descent, came a ship all of metal.

A spaceship lands in Britain in 1345 right in front of Sir Roger and his knights. The aliens are invaders as their blasters make clear, but they don't intimidate the British, who think they're either being attacked by a French trick or demons. They quickly kill all invaders and leave earth on their space ship, hoping to use it to attack th
May 21, 2012 Kevin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up after seeing a large number of reviews on, and I am very glad that I did. It's a short sci-fi novel written in 1960, originally as a serial. The novel is written from the perspective of a fourteenth century English monk, whose village is attacked by an alien race. Despite the impressive technology, the men of the village, led by their Baron, defeat the aliens and capture their ship. Intending to take it to war in France, the men, along with essentially the entire town, f ...more
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Pseudonym A. A. Craig, Michael Karageorge, Winston P. Sanders, P. A. Kingsley.

Poul William Anderson was an American science fiction author who began his career during one of the Golden Ages of the genre and continued to write and remain popular into the 21st century. Anderson also authored several works of fantasy, historical novels, and a prodigious number of short stories. He received numerous a
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